UN experts today condemned today’s execution of a 23-year-old demonstrator convicted in the context of nation-wide protests and raised the alarm about Iranian artists charged for crimes carrying the death penalty.
The young Iranian was hanged on Thursday morning after Tehran Islamic Revolution Court found him guilty of “waging war against God”. So far, official authorities already confirmed the death sentences against 12 individuals charged with “waging war against God” (moharebeh) and/or “corruption on earth” (efsad-e fel-arz).
“Executions following unfair trials constitute an arbitrary deprivation of life,” they said, urging Iran to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.The experts recalled that under international law, thedeath penalty can only be imposed and enforced for offences that meet the threshold of the most serious crimes, meaning in cases which involve intentional killing, and following a legal process that gives all possible safeguards to ensure a fair trial.
“We fear for the life of Iranian artists who have been indicted on charges carrying the death penalty,” the experts said. They made specific reference to Kurdish rapper Saman Yasin, who has reportedly been sentenced to death after being convicted by the Tehran Islamic Revolution Court on 29 October of “moharebeh” or “waging war against God.” Another rapper Toomaj Salehi was indicted for “spreading corruption on earth” another charge that carries the death penalty – in court proceedings held behind closed doors and without the presence of his lawyer.
Yasin was arrested on 2 October 2022 in relation to his songs in which he reportedly criticised the Government, and Toomaj Salehi on 30 October 2022, for posting videos of himself actively asking his followers to participate in demonstrations, and for songs criticizing Iranian authorities.
“We are also alarmed by information that the artists are currently being held in solitary confinement and about allegations of torture and ill-treatment against Mr. Toomaj Salehi,”, the experts said. According to the latest information reaching the UN experts, Toomaj Salehi has a broken nose, several broken fingers and a severely damaged leg.
“These arrests and indictments appear solely to be related to the peaceful exercise of their legitimate right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity. They are only aimed at silencing dissenting voices in the country and constitute undue restrictions on the right of all persons in Iran to enjoy and have access to the arts and to take part in cultural and public life” the experts said. The experts also reiterated their call for the immediate release of thousands of individuals indicted for their involvement in peaceful demonstrations.
Since the start of the protest, at least 40 Iranian artists, writers, poets, actors, film makers and musicians have been arrested and jailed.
The experts said the vitality of artistic creativity is necessary for the development of vibrant cultures and the functioning of democratic societies. Iran’s current crackdown on protests constitutes a violation of international human rights treaties to which it is a party.
The UN experts have expressed their concerns to the Iranian Government regarding these cases and urged them to halt these violations.